Build a Better Burger With Compound Butter and Garlic Confit

The maitre d'hotel burger, fully assembled.

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

I had an epiphany the other day. I was at lunch, munching on a burger, when I thought, By golly, this is nothing but a steak that's been ground up into meat squiggles, smashed back together into steak form, and then cooked just like a steak! And then I wondered, How come they don't call this a steak-er? It's moments like this when the truly good ideas come to me: It would be my mission to put the "steak" back in "burger."

That's how this stroke of genius was born. Except that I didn't end up calling it a "steak-er." Instead, I'm calling it a "butter burger." No, not that butter burger—please try to keep up. This is another, newer, truer, better butter burger (it's not bitter, though, because Betty Botter didn't buy my butter).

My secret ingredient is hotel butter. Perhaps you know it as beurre de maitre d'hotel, which is how the French say it.

Making beurre maitre d'hotel (compound hotel butter) in a food processor

Maitre d'hotel butter sounds fancy—and it is fancy if you fancy thinking of unfancy things as fancy—but it's not all that fancy, really. It's just a classic compound butter, in this case butter blended with mixture of parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. The process only takes a few seconds in a food processor, but it can be also done in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or even patiently whipped by hand.

Rolled up and wrapped in plastic and chilled until firm, it's ready to be sliced into discs and plopped onto warm steaks, where it melts into the most brazen of sauces.

With the burgers seared and the buns toasted golden (I opt, controversially in the eyes of some burger aficionados, for brioche here because...more butter), it's all a matter of assembly. First, I spread some garlic confit onto my bottom buns. Garlic confit is a must—I've already gone to France with this thing, so I may as well venture outside of Charles De Gaulle and actually see the sights. Plus, garlic confit is delicious and as soft and spreadable as—wait for it—butter!

Smearing garlic confit onto burger bun, then assembling burger

On top of the garlic, I add seared hearts of romaine. The idea here is to meet this lusty burger where it lives; it’s already loaded with melted butter and juicy beef, with that sweet-funky garlic unpinning it all.

Searing romaine hearts in a cast iron skillet, then trimming cores

The romaine can’t just be pristine and crisp, like some fresh-faced fling you’ve moments ago picked up along the Seine. No, this burger is from later on, when you’re both sharing a cigarette. A little spent, whiff of char.

That's it. A grown-up steak, in burger form.

The maitre d'hotel butter melting on hot burger patties